Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, February 24, 2020

Week Ending 02/24/20

Consecration of New Bishop in Taiwan Goes On Despite Coronavirus

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the chief consecrator at the  service for the new bishop of Taiwan on Saturday, February 22.  The Archbishop and other bishops from Hong Kong had to cancel attendance given restrictions on travel related to the coronavirus, but the Taiwan Diocese, which is one of the overseas dioceses of the Episcopal Church went ahead with the ceremony.  They did cancel a planned banquet following the service.  The planners announced precautions they were taking to prevent the large gathering to be possible site of exposure to the virus, but these were not expected to include having participants in the consecration wear masks.Taiwan has reported 30 cases (including one death) of the virus, most associated with one family with a member who was in China in December.

Mexican Anglicans Aid Families Seeking News of "the Disappeared"

The Anglican Church of Mexico has joined with the Roman Catholic Church in trying to support the pleas of families searching for information on what has happened to loved ones who they fear have been killed by cartels in the on-going violence in Mexico.  The various morgues in Mexico have a backlog of 30,000 unidentified bodies, and while the Mexican government had promised to create a genetic database and ask help from the United Nations, nothing has been done.  Anglican Churches have held special masses to support the families and are petitioning for action.  The Anglican Communion News Service has the full story.

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Episcopalians Request Writ from South Carolina Supreme Court

The South Carolina Supreme Court remitted the implementation of their decision on Episcopal church property to Circuit Court Judge Dickson in 2017.  Since then he has delayed hearings, and has made only one ruling confirming the South Carolina Supreme Court decision that 9 parishes had never assented to the Dennis Canon.  He has refused to move forward on implementing the ruling in favor of Episcopalians on diocesan property and another 29 parishes.  South Carolina Episcopalians are concerned that he intends to use a February 27 hearing to consider a motion filed by the schismatic group that would then let him relitigate the entire property issue.  As a result Episcopalians have filed a writ with the state supreme court asking that the judge be barred from doing anything except dismissing schismatic group's motion.  The Episcopal diocese's web site has both a explanation of the action and a link to their filing with the South Carolina Supreme Court. Blogger Steve Skardon has additional commentary in his February 22 post.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Week Ending 02/17/20

New Hampshire Church-Attenders Chose Klobuchar over Buttigieg

Democratic voters in New Hampshire who attend church regularly choose Senator Amy Klobuchar more often that former mayor Peter Buttigieg or Senator Bernie Sanders.  She received 29 % of the votes of those who regularly attended church.  Buttigieg, the Episcopalian who mentions religion frequently in his campaigning received 16% of the votes from that group. Buttigieg led Klobuchar and Sanders in attracting the votes of occasional church goers.  Sanders led among the unchurched.  The full article in Religion News has more detail. 

Church Leaders Send Trump Protest On Policies Hurting the Poor

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was among the 13 church leaders who signed a letter protesting policy changes recently announced by the Trump administration which would have negative impacts on the poor and disabled.  Their protest was based in the sections of scripture that empahsize our duty to love and care for the the poor and needy.  The Episcopal Cafe article has a link to the full letter. 

Church of England Synod Moves on Climate Change, Achnowledges Racism But Punts on LGBTQ Issues

The Church of England Synod which is currently winding up its sessions acted in a dramatic way to shorten the target period at the end of which the Church would  be leaving a zero tolerance carbon footprint.  The original target date was 2045.  This was moved up to 2030.  Convincing parishes and church institutions to make the changes needed to achieve this goal is going to take real work and money.  The Archbishop of Canterbury also issued an apology for  racism within the Church and  challenged the whole Church to turn a hostile environment into a welcoming one for minorities. On another hot button topic, the status of LGBTQ people in the Church, including same-sex marriage,  both conservatives and groups arguing for inclusion were disappointed in the delay of the Living in Love and Faith Commission report and the timetable for discussions.

Survey Shows Mainline Clergy Leading Way on Same Sex Marriage

A survey done by a Nashville research group suggests that the strongest support for same-sex marriage among church leaders identified three groups that were more likely to support same-sex marriage.  These were mainline clergy, white clergy, and clergy at small parishes.  While the percentage of support from evangelical church leaders remained  in the teens in both 2010 and the present, mainline clergy support jumped from around one third to almost half.  The survey did not include Episcopal clergy, Bishop Bonnie Perry's recent election and consecration was mentioned in the Christian Post article as an indication of the high support for same sex marriage withing the Episcopal Church.  The Christian Post article has more detail on the survey results.

Pittsburgh's East End Episcopal Churches Announce Lenten Preachers Announced for 19th Annual Series. 

For the 19th year, the Episcopal Churches in Pittsburgh's East End will be jointly sponsoring a series of Tuesday Lenten suppers followed by a communion service.  This year the preachers include a mix of clergy both from inside the diocese and from the larger church.  The Series will kick off at Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill on March 3 and conclude at St. Andrews on March 31.  The details are here.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Diocese of Olympia and Feds Reach Settlement on Immigrant Travel Ban Lawsuit

The Diocese of Olympia was among the groups working with refugees who joined the Washington state America Civil Liberties Union in filing suit  to challenge the Executive Orders issued in January 2017 barring most refugees from 11 countries.  A  legal settlement between the Federal government and the suing parties has just been announced.  Immigration services has promised to prioritize processing certain classes of refugee cases.  Olympia entered the suit originally arguing that resettling refugees was an essential part of its members living out their faith. 

South Carolina Judge Sets Another Hearing

State Court Judge Dickson, who was assigned in 2017 to implement the South Carolina Supreme Court decision awarding most property to the Episcopalians, has scheduled a hearing February 27, 2020 on several of the motions filed by the Episcopalians.  There is no indication he is ready to issue any orders or decisions. The judge's last actions were in December 2019.  Blogger Steve Skardon notes in his February 15 post on the new hearing that the judge has been doing a delaying action for more than two and a half years.  Given that the hearing is on motions filed in 2018, the slow pace is evident. 

Immigration Authorities in England and U.S. Deportation Rules Go Against Church Wishes

The son of an Anglican bishop in El Salvador was denied asylum and deported to El Salvador where his family is sure his life is in danger from drug cartels that he angered by trying to refuse working with them.  Update reported earlier on the efforts of Episcopalians to aid the son.  His father is still trying to find a way to send him to another country.  Meanwhile in England, government officials again ruled against an Iranian refugee who had converted to Christianity and ordered his deportation.  The man will leave behind in England his wife and toddler daughter.  A year ago the Church of England created a stink when the official conducting the first asylum hearing for this refugee insisted that Christianity was a war-like religion.  Update covered that event.  This time, the hearing judge ruled that the man was not really a convert to Christianity because he got several questions wrong on a 150 question quiz on the Bible.  Now church leaders are upset that the government has no understanding of  the nature of Christianity or the danger facing Iranian Christians.

Sewanee Announces Full Financial Aid

The School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee has quietly changed its financial aid for its Master of Divinity program to provide full tuition and fee scholarship to all students.  In addition generous need-based aid will be available for housing and other living costs.  Sewanee is the second Episcopal seminary to make it possible for students wishing to be ordained to study virtually free of cost.  Virginia Theological Seminary had announced its program earlier this year.  The programs are designed to ensure that graduates will not enter the ministry with a large debt hanging over them.

Oxford Dean Seeks Damages

Christ Church, Oxford is both a cathedral and a college.  The Dean of its cathedral also serves as head of the College.  Unfortunately the current Dean was caught up in a nasty struggle with faculty that led to an investigation which ultimately cleared the Dean and revealed a venomous resistance by certain faculty.  Update covered this story earlier.  However, the Dean has filed a complaint with the Employment Tribunal and is seeking damages for lost pay.  This hearing has resulted in the release to the public of many of the nastiest emails between faculty being released.  

More Church Attempts to Heal the Racial Divide 

More parishes and dioceses are responding to the call by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to seek reconciliation for past and ongoing racism by admitting complicity in racism past and present and working to make amends.  Update has been tracking many of these efforts (See for example here and here.)  The latest include the decision of the Diocese of Texas to commit $13 million dollars for scholarships and grants to groups working on racial justice; the focus at the current Executive Council meeting on the Doctrine of Discovery and the damage it has done to indigenous peoples; and a Florida parish that led a  pilgrimage to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama which honors the more than 4000 victims of lynching in the U.S.  The Diocese of Texas's announcement follows announcements made by Virginia Theological Seminary, the Diocese of New York, and the Diocese of Maryland.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Week Ending 2/10/20

Pennsylvania Bishops Urge Legislature to Pass LGBTQA+ Rights Bill

Bishop Dorsey McConnell has joined with the other  four diocesan Episcopal Bishops in Pennsylvania to urge the legislature consider passage of a law that will protect the LGBTQA+ community from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.  The letter notes that they also are signers along with many other Episcopal leaders of an amica brief submitted the the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving LGBTQA+ rights.  Their root their support for the legislation in the belief that all people are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.

Diocese of Pennsylvania Creates Legal Aid Services Unit

The Diocese of Pennsylvania chancellor, Steve Chawaga, has taken on a new role as the sole staff person of Episcopal Legal Aid, a new ministry supported by the diocese.  He has no office, but instead goes from parish to parish, working with people on a number of issues where the person needed legal advice, but could not get it or afford it.  His services are free. He has been present once a month at the Cathedral's food pantry to provide legal guidance, and has made trips to other parishes in the diocese.   

Hong Kong and Macao Anglicans Respond to Epidemic

The bishops of the Hong Kong province have issued a pastoral letter asking their members to pray for all affected by the coronavirus and urging members to use caution and practice careful hygiene to prevent spreading the disease.  In a related statement, the bishops declared that the Anglican churches in Macao would not hold any services for the next two Sundays, but will provide an on-line version for worship on Sundays. 

Scottish Bishops Respond to Brexit

The College of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland has issued a letter raising its concerns as to ways the departure of the United Kingdom might impact the poor and those from other countries living in Scotland.  The letter called its members to remember that the church's mission remains the same: to care for those who are poor or needy and show God's love.  The whole letter is here. 

Acts 29 Leader Removed

Steve Timmis, the CEO of Acts 29  a network of evangelical church planting groups that includes mega churches in numerous countries, has been forced to resign after charges of spiritual abuse arose in the way he administered The Crowded House, his church community in Sheffield, England.  A number of evangelical Anglicans have spent time at The Crowded House or have been influenced by Timmis.  The things Timmis was doing to those affiliated with The Crowded House bordered on the creation of a closed cult.  Over the years since its founding in Texas in 1998, the Acts 29 network has had to remove several leaders and Board members.   

Updates on Previous Stories

Jacksonville Parish Announces It Will Offer Same Sex Marriages

St. John's Parish in Tallahassee, FL has gone through a discernment period and announced that it is ready to perform marriages for same sex couples.  What makes this newsworthy is that St. John's is in the Diocese of Florida where conservative John Howard is the bishop.  Following General Convention 2018's resolution requiring every diocese to create a way that same sex couples could have a church wedding in their home area, Bishop Howard announced a process that required a face-to-face meeting with the priest and parish leaders before granting permission.  It was largely interpreted as a last chance for the bishop to convince the parish not to go forward. The decision by St. John's is also noteworthy because this parish lost many of its members who left with the previous rector to found a new ACNA parish.  Those that left were opposed to same sex marriage and ordination.  The ACNA parish recently had to suspend its rector and after an investigation remove him for a variety of issues including improper advances to men.  Pittsburgh's former bishop, Robert Duncan served as the interim during the investigation. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Week Ending 02/03/20

Anglican Minister Among Victims of Terrorist attack on Congo Christians

Islamic Rebels known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been terrorizing Christians in Beni region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Government troops are trying to the ADF back in Uganda where they originated.  The latest  attack left 36 Christians from 2 villages dead, hacked to death with machetes. Among those killed was the Anglican minister for the village of Eringeti. The Christian Post  article puts the most recent attack in context.

Wisconsin Governor Honors Episcopal Priest During State of the State Speech

The priest serving Trinity Episcopal Church in Baraboo, WI and St. John's in nearby Portage was honored by being mentioned by name in the "State of the State" presentation by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.  Evers was impressed by the Rev. Dave Mowers efforts to create a homeless shelter in Baraboo and his persistence when his first site was opposed by local residents.  The Living Church has the full story.

St. Louis Episcopal Parish Placed on National Historic Register for LGBTQ Support 

Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places for their early and consistent efforts in support of LGBTQA+ rights including sponsoring one of the earliest Gay Rights groups and their willingness to minister to those stricken by the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s when most places were unwilling to respond.  The parish recently celebrated the placement of a Register plaque on the outside of the church.  The Episcopal News Service has fuller details.

Updates on Continuing Stories

Chicago Diocese Reaches Settlement with Quincy Anglicans

The Diocese of Quincy was the smallest diocese in membership when it became the 5th diocese affected by the schism resulting in the creation of the Anglican Church of North America.  The continuing diocese merged in 2012-13 with the Diocese of Chicago.  Chicago was unsuccessful in its court challenges in recovering the endowments and property of the diocese (see here and here), but has quietly been in negotiations with Anglicans.  They have just announced an agreement with the Anglican Diocese of Quincy.  The terms are confidential, but there are financial benefits for the parishes who stayed with the Episcopal Church and retained control of their buildings.  Two congregations, whose faithful remnants did not retain control of their buildings will need to be the subject of further negotiations. 

Ordination of Southern Virginia Bishop Celebrated in New Venue

Two weeks ago Update reported that the Episcopalians in Southern Virginia had withdrawn from using Williamsburg's Roman Catholic Church for the consecration of the Rev. Susan Haynes as their new bishop.  Conservatives upset both by a protestant ceremony being conducted in the church, and by the fact that the bishop-elect was female had raised a major stink.  The Diocese quickly found another Williamsburg church willing to host the ceremony, and this last weekend, the ceremony went off in grand style.   

More than One Episcopalian Chases the Democratic Nomination as President

Episcopalians have been pleased by the open way candidate Pete Buttigieg has been willing to mention his Episcopal faith. ( See updates here and here.)  Now we learn that there is a second Episcopalian seeking the nomination, and he also credits his faith for being the reason he is passionate about the environment.  Tom Streyer, like Buttigieg came to the Episcopal Church as an adult.  He credits the church with connecting him to those fighting climate change and other environmental issues.  Streyer attends Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

Partial Apology of Archbishops Welby and Sentamu Fall Short

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued an apology for the way the statement by the Church of England House of Bishops addressed LGBTQA+ issues (see Update here), but the House of Bishops refused to rescind the statement.  Their apology has not eased the protests coming from a variety of church organizations who felt the statement undercut all efforts to reach out to the LGBTQA+ community, including those who were participating in the ongoing discussion that were to bring a new statement to the Church of England Synod.  Thinking Anglicans has a good round up of the critical reactions to the apology here.

China Using Coronavirus to Put More Controls on Christian Churches

The Chinese government has seized supplies sent to churches in the area most affected by the coronavirus, and is using the seizure to futher insist that the Chinese Communist Party is the head of all churches.  This includes setting doctrine, approving clergy, and requiring the churches to cut ties with all external religious organization.  These rules affect hierarchical churches, including those of the Anglican Communion directly.  Anglican.ink  has the story.  Update has covered the increasing persecution of Christian Churches on several occasions (see here, here, and here).